The wingfoil racing recipe by the Indiana Paddle & Surf Co. rider Gunnar Biniasch

Meet Gunnar Biniasch, the IWSA Wingfoil Racing Master World Champion 2022! Prior to the wing, Gunnar had a successful career in kite surfing, slalom and foiling. Last year, his season was crowned with success with this world title, so we wanted to know more about Gunnar Biniasch’s wingfoil racing recipe: what gear does he use, what are his techniques and strategies, if his experience in kite racing is useful to him… The Indiana Paddle & Surf Co. rider, who is also part of the brand’s R&D team and who has designed his own G-Pros Signature Series Boards, tells us everything!

© IWSA – 2023 IWSA WingFoil Europeans, Greece

Hi Gunnar! You have been crowned IWSA Wingfoil Racing Master World Champion in 2022! Did you expect this title?

After doing well in the first event of the IWSA Season in Garda I was very confident that I would do well in the final event in Brazil. Winning the Masters (+35 Category) was great, however my focus was doing well enough in the overall rankings to qualify for the ANOC Beach Games.  I was super stoked to perform good enough to qualify.

© IWSA – 2022 IWSA WingFoil Racing, Jeri Wingfoil Cup, Brazil

What do you like in particular about the Wingfoil Racing discipline?

I love that anyone can compete at this level, regardless of age.  Racing involves a lot of elements that do not only rely on raw talent and energy. Mental Strength, Gear Tuning, Tactical Awareness, Timing and fitness are all needed to be a competitive racer and need to be trained.

© IWSA – 2023 IWSA WingFoil Europeans, Greece

According to you, what makes the difference in a Wingfoil Racing competition ?

To do well in a Racing Competition you need to be a “Complete” rider. Gear, strategy, technique and fitness are all needed to be fast around the course.  Good gear alone will not make you fast around the course. You need to know how to start clean and with speed, you need to know how to sail around the course using the best lines. You need to be able to read the wind shifts on the course. You need to pick the right gear for the course that is set. Then finally you need to be able to execute your tacks and gybes with perfect precision. If any of these elements are lacking it will become very obvious on the course.

Spanish Cup Wingfoil Surf-Slalom Podium – Photo : @skatermanco

You have an impressive background in sailing and kite sports, can you tell us a little about it ?

I have been involved with windpowered Sports for a long time. I started flying kites when I was 10 years old. When I went to University I started Kitebuggy Racing and in 1998 I started to Kitesurf. I moved to Fuerteventura in 2001 and then started to kitesurf professionally in 2005 for Peter Lynn Kiteboarding. In 2005 I started racing in the Kite Slalom / Boardercross and finished the season in 3rd place. When the PKRA started Kiteracing in 2007 I got hooked on that and have been racing every since. I was German Champion in 2010, Vice Champion in 2011. I also did the PKRA Slalom in 2013 and finished the season in 5th. I started kitefoiling in 2009, but did not start competing seriously in Kitefoil racing until 2017, but more on a National Level here in Spain. In the period between 2017 and 2019 I was Spanish Vice Champion 3 times and Cup Champion in 2019. In wingfoiling I as soon as racing began I got fully into it and won the Spain Wingfoil League Tour in 2021, the Wingfoil Spain Series and Spanish cup in 2022 and so far this year I have won the Spanish Wingfoil Slalom Cup. Over the years I have worked with Indiana, Peter Lynn, Flysurfer, Gaastra, Ozone and North in R&D and as a Team Rider. I now work mainly with the Indiana R&D Team developing foilboards and foils.

So, when and how did you get into wingfoil ? Does it change a lot from your previous kiteboarding competitions, or is your experience useful in these races?

I got into wingfoiling in 2019. It was not the first time I have ridden with wings. I had quite a lot of experience with the “kitewing” in the mid 2000s, so I was well-prepared when wingfoiling came.  I also spent a lot of time windfoiling, so it was easy for me to learn and progress fast in wingfoiling.

Competing in wingfoiling is not totally different from kiting. Formats are similar, even if the execution is slightly different. When it comes to racing, the big difference is that it feels more like sailing, as you can “battle” a bit more using tactics and “match racing” compared to kitefoil racing where turbulence from other kites and foils is not as big an issue.

© IWSA – 2023 IWSA WingFoil Europeans, Greece

You ride with Indiana Paddle & Surf Co. boards and foils, how did your partnership with the Swiss brand come about ?

Back in 2017 I met Maurus here on Fuerteventura and I taught him how to kitefoil. At first, I started with some designs for them on a freelance basis. This has now grown into a full time joy in the R&D Team. Maurus had the insight to let me design the boards the way I wanted to and not how the rest of industry thought a board should look like, and this is why the Indiana wingboards set the standard for wingfoil board design.

Photo : @florianscharscher

You are part of the development and design team of their foils and foilboards, can you tell us what is your role ?

I design a large part of the foilboard range and work together with the rest of the Design Team on the foils.

Which Indiana boards do you use for wingfoil ? Especially in racing.

For this year I have my own Signature Series Boards : the G-Pros. There are two boards : the 74L and the 63L. The 74L is my go-to board for lightwind and racing and the 63L is my wave and freestyle board.

They are two totally different concepts.  The 74L is very clean and is shaped to maximize volume in short board. It is designed to plane on the water first to help small foils to engage first before the board releases from the water. This makes it amazing in light winds where there is not so much power in the wings, this is why I use it for racing too.

The 63L is a no compromise FunBoard. It is 63L, but in a very compact 4’4” x 22” teardrop shape. It have concave rails and surf style nose with a very forward volume distribution. This makes it very agile, and it is almost impossible to catch the rail when ripping waves.

Finally, what are your projects and competitions planned for 2023 ?

I have a pretty busy schedule this year.  I am competing in the IWSA Wingfoil Race tour (Greece, Switzerland, Brazil) and the ANOC Beach Games in August.  I was at the Spanish Championship on Mallorca in May. I am also going to try to race in a few GWA events on the Canaries in July too. I am also trying to be the first wingfoiler to reach 40 Knots speed.

Thank you very much Gunnar for your answers and we wish you much success in your search for speed!

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About the Author

Laurie Montagner

From SUP Racing to wing foiling, through windsurfing, wakesurfing and surfing, you will always find Laurie somewhere in the South-West of France. Passionate about watersports, Laurie spends her time surfing, whether on the wave... or online! Laurie is indeed a specialist in social media marketing and web development, from writing lines of code to making professional videos. Very much a competitor, you've probably already met her on one of the SUP and wing events all over France!

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